Funeral Arrangements

There are many details to consider when someone dies. It can be a painful, exhausting and stressful time. It is very helpful to know the wishes of the dying person in advance. Advance care planning is strongly recommended.

The lawyer or executor of the Will needs to be contacted for the funeral arrangement plans. If there is no Advance Care Plan or funeral arrangements planned the responsibility falls on the closest relative according to a set priority list. This person is designated as the Temporary Substitute Decision Maker. See page 9 (below) of My Voice, Advance Care planning Guide below.

Temporary Substitute Decision Maker (TSDM)

A temporary substitute decision maker (TSDM) is chosen if you have not legally named an individual (representative) to make health care decisions for you when you are incapable of making them yourself.

The TSDM is chosen by your doctor or other health care provider from a list you can fill out. The order of the people who qualify to be on the list is determined by B.C. law. To be able to act as a TSDM, the person must be 19 or older, be capable, have no dispute with you, and have been in contact with you in the past year.

One person on the list below must be approached in the order given: 1. Your spouse (married, common-law, same sex – length of time living together doesn’t matter) 2. A son or daughter (19 or older, birth order doesn’t matter) 3. A parent (either, may be adoptive) 4. A brother or sister (birth order doesn’t matter) 5. A grandparent 6. A grandchild (birth order doesn’t matter) 7. Anyone else related to you by birth or adoption 8. A close friend 9. A person immediately related to you by marriage (in-laws, step-parents, step-children, etc.)

You may not change the order of the list. A person lower down on the list may only be chosen as your TSDM by your health care provider if all the people above them do not qualify or are not available.

If you know that you want someone lower on the list to make your health care decisions, then you should name that person legally as your representative using a representation agreement form. There are two different types of representation agreement forms at the back of this guide. Be sure to use the one that meets your needs. More information on the differences between these two types of representation agreement follows in the next section.

Your TSDM is legally required to make decisions that respect your wishes. If you have had discussions about advance care planning and written down your beliefs, values and wishes, your TSDM will know and be able to speak to your wishes when asked to make health care treatment decisions for you.

My Voice

As well as family and friends, hospice volunteers are available for emotional support and to help with practical matters.  You may also wish to contact your spiritual or religious advisor.

In the New Denver area, funerals over the last decades have mainly been provided by funeral companies from Nakusp, Nelson, Castlegar or Trail.  These commercial groups continue to provide service to our area, and are listed below.

However, British Columbia is the only Canadian province which allows private funerals. In New Denver, the Carpenter Creek Last Wishes Society provides details on how this works. Private funerals allow the family and mourners time with the body after death. Taking care of the body is helpful for the grieving process, and helps to keep costs to a minimum.
Whichever form of funeral you choose, there is extensive paper work to be done, some required immediately after the death occurs.  The Bureau of Vital Statistics requires the following information immediately:

Click here for the Vital Statistics Form required at time of death.

Commercial Funeral Providers

Thompson Funeral Services and Crematorium
613 Ward Street, Nelson 250 352 3613

Personal Alternative Funeral Services

1398 McQuarrie Street, Trail 250 368 8080

Castlegar Funeral Chapel
411 9th Ave., Castlegar  250 365 3220

Valley Funeral Home

616 Vernon St, Nelson 250 352 003
101 Nelson Avenue, Nakusp 250 265 4316

When you meet with the Funeral Director discuss fully and frankly all options and details of the funeral arrangements, including cost. You may find it helpful to have someone with you to assist with the details. You will be asked to make decisions regarding:

  • burial or cremation
  • place and site of burial, grave marker
  • type of casket or urn
  • selection of clergy or facilitator for the service
  • time, place and type of service. This may range from a formal traditional funeral, a memorial service or a simple gathering at someone’s home. If the deceased did not leave instructions, you will be deciding how to mark this event. You may need a few days to decide and to await the arrival of family/friends.
  • embalming (this is seldom required)
  • viewing of the body (this can be important for many people, in particular if the death was sudden)
    clothing for the deceased
  • pall bearers (avoid designating people with heart or back difficulties, instead make them honorary pall bearers)
  • flowers or donations (if you prefer to have memorial donations sent to an organization, include this request in the obituary). You may wish for the flowers to be distributed after the service
  • obituary notice. This may be written by a family member or friend, or as a service of the Funeral Provider

Details to Consider

  • Coordinate date of funeral with travel plans of relatives and friends who are coming for the service
  • Notify relatives, friends, employer and colleagues of the death and the date and time of the funeral
  • Make arrangements to have someone answer the door and telephone and keep a record of calls, cards and flowers. Prepare a list of persons to receive acknowledgments
  • Have someone coordinate the supply of food for the days ahead
    Arrange child care if needed and hospitality for visitors. Consider special needs of pets
  • Dispose of medications—they may be returned to the pharmacy or given to the physician
  • Ensure your home is looked after on the day of the funeral. Some burglars use obituary notices to learn when a home is unattended
  • Arrange for a reception after the service, if desired

A Funeral Celebrant

A Funeral Celebrant officiates at funeral services for families who are not attached to a church or who do not wish to have a traditional religious service. The Celebrant will hold a meeting for the immediate family to share special memories from the life of the deceased. Out of that gathering, the Funeral Celebrant will design a service – in consultation with the family – that best reflects and memorializes the life of the loved one. This may include a eulogy, readings, music, a video tribute, and ceremonies such as candle lighting, or placing flowers at the graveside. The job of a Funeral Celebrant is to help create a ceremony that is a personalized reflection of the life of the deceased.

Sources of Assistance

The expense of a funeral should never be a burden on those left to grieve. The B.C. Government and some other agencies have programs to ensure people are provided with reasonable and dignified funeral/memorial services. Each organization has its own policies, procedures, and maximums. Contact them in advance of the funeral and be aware that if you arrange the funeral yourself and sign the contract with a funeral provider, you may be responsible for all costs.

Assistance may be available from:

  1. Canada Pension Plan has a death benefit available to any person who has been covered by the plan for three or more years since 1966. The amount varies per individual and on receiving the application takes about 8 weeks to process. You will need the deceased’s Social Insurance Number. Phone 1-800-277-9914.
  2. The Public Trustee will arrange the funeral services if no family or friends are willing and able to accept responsibility. Contact this office through Enquiry B.C. at 1-800-663-7867.
  3. Veterans’ Affairs Canada & the Last Post Fund ensure that those who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces during times of war are provided with a dignified funeral. For information phone 1-800-663-1931.
  4. The Ministry of Human Resources provides those on income assistance and those without financial resources with funeral costs, including a casket and either burial or cremation. A grave marker is not provided. For information call 1-866-866-0800.
  5. Check all life and casualty insurance and death benefits including Old Age Pensions or Social Security, insurance policies including car insurance and home owner’s mortgage insurance, extended care plans, Trade or Credit Union Plans and Income Protection.

Click here for a Funeral Preplanning Form

The time of Death

When death is expected:

  1. Check for an advance care plan and update or create one together.
    a. Initiate arrangements to fulfill the dying person’s requests, for example, coffin building.
    b. Make a list of who to call when death occurs.
  2. DO NOT CALL 911
  3. There is no rush to do anything, and no legal requirement to move the body immediately.
  4. Make the phone calls listed above.
  5. The person will have to be officially ‘pronounced’ deceased by a medical attendant.
  6. To assist the grieving process, review how the death occurred and encourage articulation of events.
  7. An important step in the grieving process is spending time with the body.
  8. Allow expression of feelings.
  9. Remember to explain what is happening to children.
  10. Make sure that any remaining medication is stored safely until it can be disposed of properly. *
    *It can be given to the medical attendant or to any pharmacy for safe disposal.
  • Physician, Home Care Nurse, other medical attendant
  • Family member or friend with planned phone tree
  • Spiritual advisor if desired
  • Funeral Provider or Last Wishes Society
  • Hospice, 358–7828.

In case of UNEXPECTED death:

CALL 911. This will bring the ambulance and the police who may initiate CPR.

The Coroner is notified in all cases of unexpected death.

Autopsy Information

In most cases of sudden death or unexpected death the Coroner’s Office will require an autopsy. If this is the case, it may mean a delay between the time of death and the release of the body. Also, the family or the physician may request an autopsy even if one is not required. In these cases, the next-of-kin will be asked to give written permission. The deceased can still be viewed prior to or at a funeral service following an autopsy. In the case of sudden death, you may be questioned by the police as part of their investigation. If crime is involved, you may be asked to appear in court as a witness. You may feel frightened and confused. Help is available through police-based Victims Services by calling 354-3919 (Nelson City Police) 250-354-5196 (in office only Wednesday and Thursday – other days call Nelson Victim Assistance 250-354-3919)